The Thousand Islands Region is one of the best freshwater recreation destinations in the world. Once you arrive and set out on the breathtaking St. Lawrence River it becomes easy to understand why! If you are considering visiting this freshwater paradise in 2019, we strongly recommend the following activates & events!
- Ship Watching
OJIBWAY upbound near Collins Landing October 19th, 2018
Watching ships passing through the Thousand Islands Region along the St. Lawrence Seaway never gets old. Ship watching is as popular today as it has ever been. The Facebook group, St. Lawrence Seaway Ship Watchers has 19, 701 members at the writing of this blog. That’s a lot of ship watchers! Best yet, if you capture some excellent ship photos or videos during your visit you can join the group and post them!
You might be wondering what are some of the best ship watching spots? The in-depth answer to this question will come in a future blog post but for now we would have to say that Frink Park along Riverside Drive in downtown Clayton, NY and the US Span of the Thousand Islands Bridge at Collins Landing would be our top picks.
Frink Park in downtown Clayton, NY provides excellent views of ships with plenty of seating.
FEDERAL SETO downbound shot from Frink Park, Clayton, NY July 14th, 2017
If you want to see ships as close as possible the US Span of the Thousand Islands Bridge provides two options.
Option A would be to take Collins Landing Road right down to the water and watch ships as they pass under the bridge.
CCGS Pierre Radisson Icebreaker upbound shot from under the Thousand Islands Bridge March 22nd, 2019
Those without a fear of heights could opt for option B, walking to the top of the bridge along the walkway and viewing ships as the pass under. In our opinion this is the absolute best way to watch ships with views one could only replicate with a drone or aircraft. The bridge is open to the public for walking from dawn to dusk throughout most of the season.
FEDERAL ELBE upbound shot from the TI Bridge October 12th, 2018
- Castles, Oh My!
In the late half of the 19th century the 1000 Islands was in a period of extravagance during the Gilded Age. Millionaires and socialites from the most elite corners of society began building larger than life vacation homes in the area. While many succumb to fire and neglect Boldt Castle & Singer Castle remain today and are some of the most popular tourist attractions in the area.
Photo Credit: Jason DesJardins of Horizon Areal Media Services
The only thing that rivals the castles immense size and grandeur is its tragic romantic history. In 1900 Wealthy hotel magnet George Boldt began construction on a massive castle inspired by ones he had seen as a child in Prussia, on Heart Island across from Alexandria Bay, NY. The castle was to serve as the ultimate display of love for his wife Louise. Tragedy struck just four years later when Louise died suddenly and mysteriously at age 31. George ordered all construction to stop. The castle was left in a state of disrepair for the next 70 years.
Thankfully the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority purchased the Castle and other adjacent structures including the equally massive Boldt Yacht House in 1977 and started an extensive restoration process.
Today the castle is open to the public from May through October. We have visited Boldt Castle numerous times and it honestly never gets old. Each year new areas of the castle are restored. If you have visited the castle in the past its always worth a second, third, or even fourth visit! You will always find something new! Boldt Castle officially opens May 11, 2019.
For more information visit www.boldtcastle.com .
Singer Castle (The Towers)
Photo Credit: Singer Castle Dark Island Tours Facebook Page
Roughly 30 miles downriver from Boldt Castle sits another Gilded Age treasure, Singer Castle. This castle may be lacking the tragic romantic history but is non the less equally impressive to visit.
Construction of this grand estate started around 1903 and was completed by 1905. Unlike Boldt Castle whose construction was never completed, Singer Castle was fully completed and vacationed in by original owner, Frederick Bourne, and his family. Bourne was a successful business man and fifth president of the Singer Sewing Machene Company. Giving the castle its name.
Originally called “The Towers” by the Bourne family, the castle stayed in their ownership until the 1960’s. Today Singer Castle is open to the public for visits throughout the tourism season usually running May through October with 45-minute guided tours being offered. Images of the castle honestly do not do it justice. If your planning a visit to the 1000 Islands we strongly recommend you put a visit to Singer Castle at the top of your list!
For more information visit www.singercastle.com.
- Thousand Islands Charity Poker Run (July 18th – 20th)
Nothing brings out the performance boats like a Florida poker run. Oh wait, that’s Clayton, NY!
2019 marks the 3rd year for the Thousand Islands Charity Poker Run and its already fast becoming a favorite event in the power boat world. We choose to rank this event on our list of reasons to visit the Thousand Islands in 2019 because you would have to travel outside NY to find an event of this caliber. We have long considered this area as the northeast boating mecca and events like this showcase why. Last year over 100 top dollar powerboats entered the run and ran from Clayton, NY to Cape Vincent, NY and then up to Ogdensburg, NY before returning to Clayton.
From the perspective of a spectator it is very exciting to watch both from shore and by boat. Obviously, if possible, our recommendation would be to watch it from the water. Last year we followed the run, to the best of our abilities in a boat that barley pushes 40 mph, and it was a blast!
Best of all, if you plan your vacation to the area around this time you can also work in a trip to Boldt or Singer Castle and get some ship watching in as well!
For more information on the 1000 Islands Charity Poker Run visit: www.1000islandsrun.com.
- 55th Annual Antique Boat Show & Auction (August 2nd – 4th)
The annual Antique Boat Show & Auction has become as much of a summer staple for us as ice cream and boating.
The Antique Boat Show & Auction is the oldest running antique boat show in North America. The event features a wide variety of beautiful antique boats on display. The show opens to the public Friday, August 3rd at 9am. Once you enter the ABM you can leisurely stroll around the grounds viewing dozens of wooden boats as well as an impressive number of vendors selling everything from food & wine to vintage boat parts and accessories. Entry into the show also provides full access to the Antique Boat Museum. The Museum itself is highly recommended even if you choose not to attend the show.
On Saturday, August 4th at 1pm to 4pm an auction takes place conducted by Antique Boats America. If you have the money you can make your antique boat dreams come true! Famous country artist Alan Jackson even visited the show in 2009.
The event wraps up with a “Grand Parade” that leaves from the Antique Boat Museum and goes along the waterfront of downtown Clayton at 12pm Sunday, August 5th.
If your interested in visiting the show or the world class Antique Boat Museum visit: www.abm.org.
- ACBS 2019 International Boat Show (September 16th – 22nd)
If the 55th Annual Antique Boat Show & Auction leaves you hungry for more antique boats you’re in luck. The Antique & Classic Boat Society is bringing the International Boat Show to Alexandria Bay!
This event is one of the premier antique boat shows of the season and is expected to bring over 100 beautiful antique boats to the area. Each year the show picks a different location around the globe to host this event. 2019 will be the first year the event is held in the 1000 Islands Region.
The first few days of the event are geared towards participants with guided tours to Singer Castle on Monday the 16th, Wellesley Island on Tuesday the 17th, and Clayton Wednesday the 18th. If you have an antique boat and are looking to participate this would be an excellent time to come up and experience Singer Castle. Number 2 on our list.
Friday the 20th through Saturday the 21st the boat show opens to the public. Antique boats will be docked at Bonnie Castle Resort, the Riveredge Resort, and the Village of Alexandria Bay Public Docks.
For more information on the ACBS 2019 International Boat Show vist: acbs.org.